Valencia will need to summon a UEFA Champions League comeback for the ages as they welcome Atalanta to Mestalla facing a three-goal deficit in their round of 16 tie.
• UEFA Champions League debutants Atalanta produced a dazzling display of attacking football to record a 4-1 first-leg win at San Siro in Milan. Hans Hateboer scored twice with Josip Iličić and Remo Freuler also on target; a goal from substitute Denis Cheryshev midway through the second half was all the visitors could muster.
• Four teams have recovered to win a UEFA Champions League tie on aggregate having lost the first leg by three or more goals, most recently last season’s eventual winners Liverpool in their semi-final against Barcelona (0-3 a, 4-0 h). Deportivo La Coruña (v AC Milan, 2003/04 quarter-final, 4-0 h) and Roma (v Barcelona, 2017/18 quarter-final, 3-0 h) went through after suffering 4-1 away first-leg losses. Barcelona went through after going down 4-0 at Paris Saint-Germain in the 2016/17 round of 16 first leg, winning the return 6-1.
• Valencia finished level with Chelsea on 11 points in Group H, going through as section winners thanks to a superior head-to-head record against the English club (1-0 a, 2-2 h). They picked up only four of their points at home, losing 3-0 to Ajax in their second game – their sole defeat in the section – and coming from behind to beat French side LOSC Lille 4-1 before drawing with Chelsea.
• Fourth in the Spanish Liga in 2018/19, this is Valencia’s 12th UEFA Champions League campaign. Finalists in both 1999/2000 and 2000/01, this is the first time they have reached the last 16 since 2012/13.
• Twelve months ago Los Blanquinegros finished third in their group behind Juventus and Manchester United to move into the UEFA Europa League. There they overcame Celtic (3-0 on aggregate), Krasnodar (3-2) and Villarreal (5-1) to reach the semi-finals, where they came up short against Arsenal, losing 3-1 in London and 4-2 at home.
• Valencia had won five successive home European matches before losing to Arsenal last season. They have won 13 of their last 19 continental fixtures at Mestalla, losing five. The draw against Chelsea in their most recent fixture was their first at home in Europe since their second leg against Dynamo Kyiv in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 32 finished goalless.
• Valencia’s record in two-legged ties against Italian clubs is W2 L4, although they won the most recent contest, beating Internazionale Milano on away goals at this stage of the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League (2-2 a, 0-0 h).
• The Spanish side were beaten home (0-2) and away (0-1) by Juventus in 2018/19, the first-leg loss to Atalanta stretching their run without a win against Italian opposition in the UEFA Champions League to six games (D2 L4) since a 2-1 home victory against Roma in September 2006. Last season’s defeat by Juve means Valencia have won only three of their last eight matches at home to Italian clubs (D1 L4).
• This is Valencia’s fourth last-16 tie in the UEFA Champions League (W1 L2), most recently losing to Paris Saint-Germain in 2012/13 (1-2 h, 1-1 a). That 2007 defeat of Inter is their sole success at this stage of the competition, although having drawn both legs of that contest they are still awaiting their first victory in a round of 16 match (D4 L3).
• Of the 20 UEFA competition ties in which Valencia have lost away in the first leg, they have recovered to win on aggregate on ten occasions, although they lost the most recent, against Arsenal in last season’s UEFA Europa League semi-final. They have never previously suffered a 4-1 first-leg away defeat; the only time that they have come back from a first-leg away defeat of a margin greater than one goal was in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League quarter-final, when they overturned a 0-3 defeat at Basel with a 5-0 home victory after extra time.
• Valencia’s record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
5-4 v Arsenal, 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup final
4-5 v Bayern München, 2000/01 UEFA Champions League final
5-4 v Celtic, 2001/02 UEFA Cup third round
3-4 v Steaua Bucureşti, 2004/05 UEFA Cup round of 32
• Atalanta picked up seven points in the group stage to qualify as Group C runners-up, seven behind Manchester City and one ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk. The Italian club took only one point from their first four games and have suffered their two heaviest European defeats this season, losing 4-0 away to Dinamo Zagreb on Matchday 1 before a 5-1 loss at Manchester City in their second away game.
• Atalanta got their first point on the board with a 1-1 draw at home to City in their fourth fixture. They then picked up their first UEFA Champions League win with a 2-0 defeat of Dinamo in Milan and snatched a place in the last 16 thanks to a 3-0 win at Shakhtar on Matchday 6.
• The victory against Dinamo ended Atalanta’s six-match winless run in Europe (D3 L3). The successes at Shakhtar and at home to Valencia have made it three consecutive European victories, only the second time Atalanta have achieved that, the other coming in last season’s UEFA Europa League qualifying phase.
• Before Matchday 1, the Italian club were unbeaten in seven matches in continental competition; they have still lost only four of their last 21 European games (W10 D7).
• This is Atalanta’s 43rd European match, and their seventh campaign in continental competition. They reached the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals in 1987/88 and the UEFA Cup quarter-finals three years later.
• Third in Serie A in 2018/19, their highest ever finish, and Coppa Italia runners-up, this is Atalanta’s third successive European campaign. They came through the UEFA Europa League group stage in 2017/18, losing to Borussia Dortmund in the round of 32 (2-3 a, 1-1 h), and were beaten 4-3 on penalties by Copenhagen in the play-offs of the same competition in 2018/19 after the tie had finished goalless; Atalanta had earlier eliminated Sarajevo (10-2 aggregate) and Hapoel Haifa (6-1).
• Atalanta lost five of their first six away European matches (D1) but have suffered only four defeats in the 14 since (W5 D5) and just three in the last ten (W4 D3).
• Atalanta were the only team to make their UEFA Champions League group stage debut in 2019/20 – they were the tenth Italian club to feature and the 141st overall – and are one of two round of 16 debutants along with Germany’s RB Leipzig.
• Atalanta had not faced Spanish club in UEFA competition before the first leg.
• The Italian club’s aggregate record when winning the home first leg in UEFA competition is W1 L1. Their first European tie ended in defeat by Sporting CP in the 1963/64 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round (2-0 h, 1-3 a, 1-3 replay) before Atalanta defeated the same opponents in the quarter-final of the same competition in 1987/88 (2-0 h, 1-1 a).
• Atalanta have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.
Links and trivia
• Has played in Spain:
Luis Muriel (Granada 2010–11, Sevilla 2017–18)
• Have played in Italy:
Cristiano Piccini (Fiorentina 2010–15, Carrarese 2011/12 (loan), Spezia 2012/13 (loan), Livorno 2013/14 (loan))
Geoffrey Kondogbia (Inter 2015–17)
Alessandro Florenzi (Roma 2002–20, Crotone 2011/12 (loan))
• Florenzi’s record against Atalanta with Roma is W3 D5 L3. He scored in a 3-3 draw on 27 August 2018.
• Kondogbia’s first Inter appearance was a 1-0 home win against Atalanta on 23 August 2015.
• International team-mates:
Jasper Cillessen & Marten de Roon, Hans Hateboer (Netherlands)
Alessandro Florenzi & Mattia Caldara, Pierluigi Gollini (Italy)
• UEFA Champions League squad changes
In: Alessandro Florenzi (Roma, loan), Javier Jiménez, Cristiano Piccini
Out: Ezequiel Garay, Koba Koindredi, Yunus Musah
• Eliaquim Mangala made his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition in the first leg.
• Valencia, who drew 1-1 at Alavés on Friday, have won only five of their last 16 matches in all competitions (D5 L6). The 2-1 victory at home to Real Betis on 29 February is their only win in their last seven games (D2 L4).
• Valencia skipper Dani Parejo got the winner against Betis and was also on the scoresheet against Alavés.
• Only once this season have Valencia won a game by a three-goal margin, the 4-1 defeat of LOSC Lille on Matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League. That is their sole win by three or more goals in their last 42 fixtures.
• Mangala has been out with a hamstring injury since a 3-0 defeat at Real Sociedad on 22 February.
• Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen started his first game since 7 December in the win against Betis.
• Maxi Gómez picked up a foot injury against Betis and missed the draw at Alavés.
• Rodrigo came on as a late substitute on Friday, his first appearance since 8 February due to a knee injury.
• Manu Vallejo (foot) made his last appearance on 21 December.
• Cristiano Piccini (knee) has been out since 24 August.
• Ezequiel Garay suffered a cruciate ligament tear in his right knee against Celta Vigo on 1 February and is not expected to play again this season; he has been removed from Valencia’s UEFA Champions League squad.
• UEFA Champions League squad changes
In: Mattia Caldara (AC Milan, loan), Lennart-Marten Czyborra (Heracles Almelo), Adrien Tameze (Nice, loan)
Out: Andrea Masiello (Genoa), Guilherme Arana (end of loan), Roger Ibañez (Roma, loan), Simon Kjær (end of loan), Nicolò Cambiaghi, Roberto Piccoli, Diallo Amad Traoré, Musa Barrow (Bologna, loan)
• Atalanta have won their last four matches in all competitions, most recently a 7-2 success at Lecce on 1 March.
• That made it 24 goals in Atalanta’s last six games.
• Atalanta have scored four or more goals in five of their last 11 matches. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men posted consecutive 5-0 wins against AC Milan and Parma at the turn of the year and also set a new club record with a 7-0 win at Torino on 25 January, their biggest ever in Serie A.
• Duván Zapata scored a hat-trick at Lecce. Having also found the net in the recent victories against Torino and Fiorentina (2-1), he has 11 goals in 15 Serie A appearances this season.
• Josip Iličić, who also found the net against Lecce, has now scored 12 goals in his last 11 games in all competitions, including a hat-trick at Torino.
• Luis Muriel was also on target at Lecce; his last four goals have all come as a substitute.
• The win at Lecce was the third time Atalanta have scored seven goals in a Serie A game this season after wins against Udinese (7-1 at home on 27 October) and Torino.
• Atalanta have the best attack in Serie A this season having scored 70 goals in 25 games, ten more than Lazio.
• Atalanta have scored in their last 17 games in all competitions, registering 50 goals since the 0-0 draw at Sampdoria on 10 November.
• Robin Gosens has already scored seven league goals this season, four more than he has ever previously managed in a single campaign.
• Alejandro Gómez has ten assists in Serie A this season, the fourth successive campaign in which he has reached double digits.
• Centre-back Rafael Tolói missed the game against Lecce with a thigh injury.
Official UEFA Champions League Man of the Match award introduced
UEFA will give out an official Man of the Match award after every UEFA Champions League knockout stage game to recognise the top performers in Europe’s top club competition. UEFA Technical Observers at each UEFA Champions League game from the round of 16 on will decide who deserves the Man of the Match, with an official award being handed to the successful players after full-time in recognition of their roles in decisive moments, tactical maturity, creativity and inspiration, exceptional skill and fair play.